Saturday, 23 February 2019

I Choose to Weave

The Crow holed up last week, conserving energy until Snowmageddon was over.

It’s over! The sun is shining, the snow is melting fast, the days are getting longer, and I think it’s safe to pop my head out of the hole and get on with life. Or is it?

What do you see when you look out at the world? There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly – but mostly, it seems, we tend to be bombarded by the bad and the ugly in our news feeds. Maybe I should just turn right around and turtle back into my hole. It’s just too much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this because of an op-ed article in the New York Times, written by moderate conservative David Brooks. (See link, below.) Brooks says he hears stories of pain every week, stories about bullying, racism, hateful words and angry acts directed at anyone who is “not my tribe.”

“These different kinds of pain share a common thread,” he writes. “Our lack of healthy connection to each other ... results in a culture of fear, distrust, tribalism, shaming and strife.”

The social fabric – the glue which holds a society together, the bonds which people share – is tearing apart, leaving big holes for us to fall through.

Over many centuries we’ve carefully woven this fabric out of tradition, spiritual values, and civility, trying to form a culturally rich and socially cohesive community.
Over the last six decades, however, Individualism has gone front and center as a social construct.  We place high value on freedom, self-expression and personal fulfilment, all good things. But the pendulum has swung too far: we have forgotten to balance that with community, working together, civic duty, and the common good. And that’s dangerous. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be.

“We are born into relationships, and the measure of our life is in the quality of our relationships. “We” precedes “me”,” says Brooks.

But not so much anymore. Stereotyping, verbal assaults, abuse of the powerless, angry vindictive rants – it’s everywhere you look, sometimes even glorified. Freedom of self-expression can look pretty ugly. This is perhaps when we want to hide our head in the sand, crawl back into our holes.

But Brooks decided to escape from his hole and check out what else is out there. He looked beyond the forces that rip apart the social fabric, and found what he names Weavers, people and organizations that are not motivated by power, money, status, and a me-first mentality. They want to live in right relation with others and to serve the community. With their deeds, they are mending the social fabric.

Their stories abound. Look around you, which is what I did, and this is what I saw, just in our small community:

A fundraiser for 17 families who had lost their possessions and their rented homes in a flood was successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Rotary clubs in our Valley have raised the money to build miles and miles of trails enjoyed by all. People return dropped wallets containing vital documents and lots of money. The local Grannies are tireless in holding fundraisers to support grandmothers in Africa. Compassionate volunteers staff the Cancer Agency that one of my friends has needed lately. A neighbour uses his snowblower to clear the driveways on our street. An organization here in town pays expenses for families whose children need medical treatment in larger urban hospitals. The Coldest Night movement sends out teams of people who walk the streets in solidarity with those who live there, while raising money for our local shelter society. An anonymous thank-you note arrives in the mailbox of a committee I work on. A downtown church is open 7 days a week, hosting AA groups, a soup kitchen, food bank, clothing depot, toy lending library and more. If you look around, I’m sure it will take no time at all to make a list of ten people or organizations that are Weavers in your community. Try it! There, doesn’t that feel better?

“Being around these people has been one of the most uplifting experiences of my life,” says Brooks. “... it’s made me want to be more neighborly, to be more active and intentional in how I extend care.”

It’s very easy to be a ripper of the social fabric. I know, because too often I find myself tearing down rather than building up. It’s very easy to chime in with the loud voices that cry outrage, derision, shame, and fear. We don’t have to follow, but it’s the easy road to take.

But if being a ripper is a choice, then so is being a weaver. When we accept that we are all in this together, then it makes sense that we come together and work together, that we talk together and walk together.

And the more we spread the good news that Weavers are working in our communities, the less room there is for Rippers to do their work. So what am I waiting for? Time to crawl out of the hole.

You can read more about this at  and hear him talk about Project Weave at

PS: If you want some eye candy to go with this post, check out the art of Lillian Blades at


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